This Traffic Camera Spots Heavy Polluters, Not Speeders

When you spot someone on the side of the road with a camera your normal instinct is to slow down to avoid a speeding ticket. But this fancy new camera developed by researchers at Spain's Universidad Carlos III de Madrid doesn't care how fast you're driving. It's instead designed to spot how much pollution is spewing forth from your vehicle, letting authorities pinpoint vehicles that are the worst offenders.

According to the university, just five percent of vehicles on the road account for 90 percent of toxic emissions. And instead of forcing every driver to take an emissions test, this camera can measure the pollution coming from vehicles on the road in real time, and across three lanes of traffic.

The camera itself is a modified multispectral imager that uses a series of filters to snap images across varying bands of light that reveal the distinct signatures of various types of toxic gases. And this all happens in real time, letting the system analyze and denote every vehicle's emission levels as they speed by.

Besides giving authorities the information they need to have vehicles that are particularly polluting removed from the roads, the system can also be used to regulate air quality in a city. If harmful emissions are found to be particularly high in a given area, speed limits can be reduced accordingly to help improve air quality. And the data collected over time can also be used when it comes to creating new regulations regarding what makes, models, and types of vehicles are allowed on roads. [Universidad Carlos III de Madrid via Gizmag]